Bassingbourn used Romsey's own tactics against us today: upon winning the toss they chose to field first, meaning we had to bat. But maybe that wasn't such a bad thing: our only victories in a so-far loss-heavy season on the two occasions we've batted first, so perhaps we could make it three out of three today.
It certainly seemed so early-on: despite the regulation early wicket for the opposition (the Romsey gift that just keeps giving), Nick Clarke (56 off 67 balls), Roy Page (10 off 23 balls) and John Steele (31 off 26 balls) made superb ue of some rather inconsistent Bassingbourn bowling, and after 18 overs we were cruising at 102/2. The only problem, perhaps, was that a lot of the scoring had come from aerial strokes - something of a necessity to combat Bassingbourn's strategy of bowling a foot or two wide of the stumps with a packed off-side field. A few gambles too many, combined with some excellent catching, saw us surrender our advantage in the space of a few overs, and we went to drinks in some trouble at 122/5.
It was certainly an eventful - and critical - phase of the game, but scoring 25 runs and losing 3 wickets in just 12 balls is beyond even Romsey's unique talents. The explanation was that drinks had been delayed for an over while Trinity groundsman Darren Woods had been forced to attend to a serious injury on the ajoining tennis courts, where a member of the college girls' team had taken a nasty fall. Darren had selflessly offered all his services for a good half before the unfortunate girl had been driven off to hospital, and it wasn't until the end of the 21st over that Darren had managed to return from his arduous duties.
The last half of our innings was simply torturous as Andy Owen (17 off 38 balls), Himanshu Agrawal (19 off 23 balls), Malcolm Creek (5 off 36 balls) and Adrian Mellish (14 off 19 balls) had to scrap for every last run. Whereas we should have been accelerating towards the end of our innings, we made a pathetic 23/2 from the 72 balls leading up to the start of the final over. Adie did at least ensure we finished with a bang, smashing two huge boundaries (one of which was just inches from being his first ever six), but even that ending was ruined by our second ridiculous run out. Our batting implosion was so complete that it was hard to see our actually decent total of 197 (a product of our great start) as anything other than disappointing, and we really should have been munching our tea with 240+ on the board.
We started pretty well in the field, with good catches taken by Rod Dennis (holding onto a blistering cut at point), Malcolm Creek (a juggling effort from an edge) and Daniel Mortlock (a good return catch after the batsman had smashed the ball back towards him). These efforts matched Bassingbourn's efforts earlier in the day, although our bowling wasn't quite economical enough to prevent the batsmen keeping up a respectable scoring rate. Our strongest position was probably when the total at 42/2 after 14 overs (i.e., 156 needed from, cutely, 156 balls), but where we needed an absolute moritorium on loose balls we kept on delivering that critical one or two per over. Still, the fielding remained largely good, with Jon Steele and Rod Dennis indefatigable on the square boundaries, Andy Owen and Nick Clarke making some great stops closer in and Malcolm pouching what would have been an absolutely brilliant leg-side catch . . . if the ball hadn't come off the pad.
Regardless of our efforts, Bassingbourn were slowly taking the game away from us: at 179/4 in the 35th over it was suddenly clear that we were stuffed if we couldn't get some wickets. At which point suddenly Romsey sprung to life: Daniel Mortlock (4/37), Andy Owen (1/43) and Himanshu Agrawal (2/51) all came back on for second spells and all make breakthroughs . . . although the credit here really goes to Nick Clarke who, possibly spurred on by the fact that Daniel's wickets might have been enough to take the Nicky Mellish "man of the match" award from his grasp, snaffled three fantastic catches close to the bat. Bassingbourn still needed another 11 runs but now with just 3 wickets in hand and, to add to the drama, some enforced early departures meant that Dave Clark and Matt Creek joined the team as the match reached its conclusion. We crowded around the bat and bowled with some real venom . . . but cool-headed batting from Bassingbourn's captain, in particular, saw the winning runs hit with 10 deliveries to spare.
Despite doing a lot right today, we were left with nothing better to do than to think of what might of been, and particularly whether 240 - or even 230 or 220 - would have been too many runs for the opposition to chase. Back in reality, our league record is a rather sorry six played and five lost, although thanks to Fenstanton's and NCI's perfect record of losses so far, we're somehow outside the relegation zone on the league table.